Justice League 

DC and Warner Brothers Pay $300 Million For Massive Public Humiliation

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I'm a big believer in form following function. That's why my review of the new Warner Bros/DC movie Justice League will reflect the form of the screenplay: a series of bullet points presented without any overall organizing principle.

click to enlarge Justice League Dark: (left to right) J.K. Simmons, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Ben Affleck, and Ezra Miller
  • Justice League Dark: (left to right) J.K. Simmons, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Ben Affleck, and Ezra Miller

• Justice League is not a film. It's a clip show. You know, like when a TV show has been on a long time and they want to save money late in season six by having all the characters snowed in together and swapping memories of that time in season two when they fought the bear? That's what Justice League is like, except you've never seen the show before.

• At least our hypothetical sitcom on its last legs had an interesting villain. I'll take the bear over Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) any day. At least the bear has a discernible motivation. Steppenwolf is just a mashup of other crappy villains like Apocalypse from the last X-Men movie and that fire-demon thing (checks Wikipedia) Surtur from Thor: Ragnarok. Justice League even lifts the "empty horned helmet clattering to the ground anticlimactically" gag from Ragnarok.

• Oh yeah. SPOILER ALERT: Steppenwolf is defeated. The good guys win.

• Now I want to know what happened with the bear.

• Another SPOILER ALERT: Superman (Henry Cavill) comes back from the dead in a "we promise, one-time-only, super-special Kryptonian procedure that must involve all of the other Super Friends ... I mean, members of the Justice League." Even though we all know Supes is going to be fine, the resurrection sequence takes up a huge chunk of Justice League's running time that could otherwise be used for advancing the "plot." It's the most tedious part of a tedious movie.  

• Speaking of which, the scene where the Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) dig Superman's body up from the Kansas graveyard where he's buried as Clark Kent is probably the most entertaining moment of the film, just for the sheer perversity of it.

• The reason Justice League is better than Batman v. Superman is that there's more Wonder Woman in it. Gal Gadot coasts on the excellent characterization she and Patty Jenkins created in Wonder Woman's solo film. At one point, Batman (Ben Affleck) says she should be the leader. I'm totally down for that. But instead, they go for Zombie Superman.

• Henry Cavill is literally the worst person to ever play Superman. He's not fit to hold George Reeves' cape.

• Amy Adams is completely wasted as Lois Lane. I hope she got paid well.

• There are occasional flashes of life in swole Ben Affleck's Batman. It made me feel kind of sorry for him. All those protein shakes for this?

• Of all of director Zack Snyder's missteps, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is the worst. He's the exiled scion of Atlantis hiding in a human village in Norway, but he talks like a California surfer. What about that makes sense?

• Creeping Batman-ization Alert: Aquaman feels abandoned by his mother.

• Steppenwolf's army of Parademons look like Arthur, the sidekick from the Tick, was assimilated by the Borg.

• The high-functioning sociopaths running the Hollywood studios are uniquely unsuited to making good superhero movies because they fundamentally cannot grasp what is appealing about a character motivated purely by altruism.

• When Aquaman asks Bruce Wayne what Batman's superpower is, Batman replies "I'm rich." Wrong answer. Batman should have said "I'm prepared." Also acceptable: "I'm determined."

• Since Roger Ebert is no longer around to point out these things, I feel it is my duty to note that at one point, Nazis emboldened by the death of Superman demonstrate their evil by turning over a fruit cart. Google it.

• In my notes, I referred to the McGuffins — glowing energy cubes that convey ultimate power to any creature that possess them — as "Infinity Stones." In fact, those are the glowing energy cube McGuffins from the Marvel universe. These glowing energy cubes are variously called "the change engine" and "mother boxes" which must be combined to form "The Unity." Everything in this film is a ripoff, and even the meaningless technobabble is bad.

• Jesse Eisenberg appears in the post credit scene as Lex Luthor, as if to say. "Who's the lame villain now?"

• Aquaman's trident has five points.


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Justice League
Rated NR · 2017
Official Site: www.justiceleaguethemovie.com
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: Bill Finger
Cast: Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot and Ray Fisher

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